Pinay transgender soldier moonlights as runway model

Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2017 09:35 PM

President Donald Trump's tweet on banning transgender service members sent shock waves through the ranks of the military.

Among those affected is a Filipino transwoman working in the military.

Akira Wyatt is a runway model, strutting for the likes of Kenneth Barlis and Los Angeles Fashion Week.

Growing up in Cebu, she described herself as gay, and she eventually moved to the United States at the age of 15.

"It wasn't something that was in my sights. I always admired girls that was in the modeling industry when I found out there was trans modeling. I was more intrigued about it," she said.

While she enjoys the catwalk, she also has a calling on the battlefield.

Wyatt is one of the 15,000 trans service members of the US military.

She joined the US Navy as a combat medic six years ago at 19, shortly before the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was being repealed.

"My dad was [a member of the] Marine corps and it was something that had a strong presence in my family. I felt there was an obligation for me, not just for my family but for myself...In a way I can be myself. I felt I was obligated to serve my country. The job that I have now is a hospital..., basically medic and I love doing a lot of medical work. I love serving the Marines on the field," Wyatt said.

Wyatt has been deployed three times in her career as a combat medic for the Marines. She believes her gender identity never interfered with her missions.

"I give my 100 percent in my job and in what I do and in my skills as a corpsman," she said.

She woke up on Wednesday morning to a tweet from Trump announcing a ban on transgenders in the military.

While the active service member can't say much publicly, she says she'll continue to serve the military. 

"Until it becomes final law from the Military Defense Department, that I have to check in, that I have to be kicked out or they reverse the ban on transgender, that's when another path of my life will open up. If not, I will be staying in the military as planned," Wyatt said.

She admits that while she has stayed calm since the tweet, many of her comrades, including a handful of trans-Pinay soldiers, are worried over what will happen next. 

Like Wyatt, the trans service community is now on the wait-and-see mode.

The Trump administration said it will eventually release guidelines on implementing the ban, while civil rights groups are vowing to challenge it in court.